“Where is 5 pm?” was what I continuously asked myself as I watched the clock tirelessly for the last 2 hours of a long Friday at work. However, this particular Friday was not your regular Friday; it was going to be one for the books.
It was one of my good friend’s birthday and another friend just recently got a new promotion at work, so there were plenty of reasons to celebrate. Not to mention the weather must have been a day they take the pictures for North Carolina postcards because it was nothing short of perfection.
6 pm to 9 pm was filled with dinner, phone calls, laughs, picking up people from the airport, and all the logistics that are needed for a fun night on the town with your boys. Around 10 pm, we all meet up at a friend’s apartment close to Uptown. We have drinks and perform enough antics to go viral on any Vine/Snapchat/Instagram/YouTube platform (which is not atypical for an evening with my friends).
The Uber arrives, we cut off all the music, rally the troops, and we all pack into the SUV heading Uptown.
As we approach the door to a popular establishment among young professionals in Charlotte, we are not as welcomed as we thought we’d be this Friday evening. “Sorry, there is a dress code.”
A dress code? At first thought, a dress code at a club where 70% of the women are hardly clothed and people are dancing in a drunken state is weird when you think about it. My friends and I dressed according to what we thought was fresh. Sneakers, hats and the way we wear everything is a product of us being fully immersed into the culture of our peers. It is not something that we should feel banned for wearing.
Our outfits looked like something your favorite athlete, celebrity, or artist would wear on TV.
Maybe it was a stylish thing and maybe we were not stylish enough to meet the club’s standards. Then again, a guy in a paisley button up with white jeans walked in so that could not have been the case. There were no sports coats, formal gowns or cocktail dresses, and there were no hard bottom shoes. It was not that we did not meet the sophistication standard, but there was some arbitrary dress code that establishments use to keep away a certain type of crowd…a black one.
“No sneakers, no camo, no athletic gear, and no hats”
When you read the dress code of certain establishments, you can create an image of a person who is dressing just like that.
What do you think of that person? Why is he not allowed in your establishment? I could give a rundown of my group and let you know that every single person is a graduate of a top university and is very successful, but I do not want to disassociate myself with that arbitrary image you see when you read a dress code…I want to humanize that person because I am that person.
In a casual establishment, the dress codes are very culturally based. There are people who are allowed to define what is appropriate even if that neglects certain groups.
Our clothing is an extension of our culture. When there are dress codes that criminalize certain pieces of clothing, you’re criminalizing that culture and that person.
If there is a racial bias created by dress codes for nightclubs, imagine what other hidden codes exist in society?
Racism is not just some frat guys saying racial slurs on a bus, but racism is being able to use your position of power to criminalize and marginalize others. Racism is power, and it’s time we learn the difference between racism and prejudice. It is time we dig a little deeper and have meaningful conversations about race because if it makes it harder to get into nightclubs, imagine other barriers that exist.